2.01.2014

An Uprising of the Godly.

I heard it once said that Mother Theresa experienced 2-3 years of profound spiritual experiences, then 50 years of silence where the heavens were sealed to her.

I do.  I sometimes wonder where that beaming sense of God has gone in my life.  When I was in kindergarten, I would play a game with my best friend: we would sit on the grass out by my mailbox and wonder about God.  We pictured him as a giant, maybe a giant with wings and a shining face.  I remember telling my friend, "God's bellybutton must be the size of a trashcan."  Until recent years, that God, the one I imagined pushing back plump clouds to reach out and whisper to me, was very present in my life.  On my mission in particular.  The skies in Uruguay were more expansive and encompassing than any I've seen.  I often felt like a tiny doll in a glass globe.  There seemed to be so much space in that sky for God to reach down and talk to me.  I was sure I heard him telling me it was alright one day when I'd only been in the country a month and nothing made sense and I had a migraine.  I felt positive that he led us to certain doors and to talk to specific people on the street. I longed for this thinly-veiled relationship in the months and years after my mission, but it slowly faded from me except for moments like flashes of lightning.  That God, the talkative one I seemed to know so well has grown quiet in my life and in that absence, I have found an uprising of the godly.

This is not to say that I don't believe in a God.  I do.  I believe in two Heavenly parents in fact.  A Heavenly Mother and a Heavenly Father.  I believe they are kind and concerned and woven into the details and emotions of my life in ways that I cannot comprehend.  I believe there are times that they weep for me, both because of our nearness and because of our distance.  I believe this because I do the same for my own babies.

The God of my youth however, feels quiet.  I think in some ways I made Him out to be more garish than He ever intended and assumed that He must love a fanfare of spectacular answers and miracles always because I was young, and it was easier to picture Him that way.  I think the God of my youth knew just what I needed, and I'm learning to trust that he continues to know so now.

In these past years a rush of solitude has washed over my spirituality.  At first it was alarming to me and I often felt like I was scrambling after the profound I had grown up clinging to. There were and still are many, many times when I am jarred at my smallness and lack of understanding.  I sometimes feel like I've lost something and can't put a finger on where I've left it. I sometimes call out for that God of my youth, the one who felt less reserved, more quick to allow me an answer.  I still believe in a God who holds me in the palm of His hand, just in different ways than before.  Instead, I've found profundity in the palpable evidence so close around me.

I've allowed questions in as part of my religious dialogue when for so long I'd ushered them out the door before even allowing them to catch their breath.  I felt relief when I spoke to them and found out those questions weren't so bad after all.  In fact, my questions were sincere truth searchers, not the wiley tricksters I'd sometimes labeled them as. In a recent Q&A session with Terryl and Fiona Givens, they mentioned that "every question, every reach for discovery becomes an act of faith." and "good questions require risk." There are so many things I haven't even thought to ask yet though.

For so long, my quick tears when asked to share my testimony of God led me to believe that I understood and it was really all quite simple.  I cry far less often now.  When this began to happen I was shaken up to think my heart had turned cold, but I think I feel a coarser more raw love both from and for God.  I'm also learning that the questions are not always stumbling blocks but sometimes things for us to acknowledge, to kneel beside and say a prayer right alongside. Doubt too, can be a holy experience.

I've found the hallowed and well-trodden path between the heart and mind, though complicated, is still at times the surest track to the ephemeral beauty this world has to offer.  Like this evening when Remy and Thea were bathed, pajamed, hair-combed, and wresting and laughing on my bed. There is no amount of God calling down from the heavens, or tapping me on the shoulder that could have equaled my joy, nor schooled me more effectively, than in seeing those two babies in their tiny bodies learning what it is to be alive in this world.

Carl is a geologist.  Part of his work involves the process of dating grains of sand--tiny zircons--to better understand ancient landscapes.  After working through hundreds, sometimes thousands, he slowly puts back together a picture and story of how those grains of sand came to be where they are after millions of years, a conglomerate of all their varied and vast histories.  Carl can say for example, "this zircon was once part of a granite that was at the top of a mountain range that has since eroded, redeposited, and later uplifted into a mountain and eroded again, only to be washed down a series of streams, crushed and broken along the way until it finally rested for a moment," where Carl picked it up, worked it over and dated it in an attempt to unravel its story. And the next zircon may tell a different story entirely.  How then, could God simply speak these kinds of miracles to me the way He used to? Vocabulary lacks pure awe.  Perhaps that is why He has quieted.

This thought is not finished, as I am in the thick of it.  I just wanted to write down some ideas while my babies sleep.  Perhaps it is merely an attempt to comfort myself, to appease the part of me that wants to believe that the silence of God is not punishment.  I am learning to believe that the quietness of God is trust, is a season of deep love in which the godly in my daily life usurps the need for God to speak loudly. And that, I can learn to celebrate.


6 comments:

joojierose said...

This is SO beautiful, so articulate. I began to write an essay five years ago or so about this same topic - about this (as TS Eliot/Kierkegaard have described it) "negative way" to faith, meaning faith coming out of profound silence from God. Doubt. Because that IS my faith. I think everyone at 16 or 18 has these profound, cry-inducing testimonies, and it seems almost universal that with age comes more silence. What does this all mean? I should go back and finish that essay. And you should write more. And we should contact the Givens and get a collection of writing together. Seirously, how beautiful would that be? How necessary, how helpful? Ah, thanks for writing this today Ashmae. I needed it so badly. I needed to hear it from someone else. Lots of love, Julianne.

Angela Stevenson said...

Thank you for being so well articulate. I've been trying to pinpoint how I feel lately and this was the closest thing to describe it. Thank you. Yesterday, I shared this scripture in Gospel Principles: Abraham 4:1-3, I believe it parallels the creation of our lives...how God's silence (darkness, void) and brooding may be the times we think He does not hear us. But maybe he is just taking his time to ponder over us...I think it relates to this post. Anyways, you don't know how wonderful it is to read your blog, and of course, always love your artwork. You do much good and I'm so grateful for it.

Becca said...

Oh my dear friend I can't even begin to tell you how much I love and appreciate this post. It speaks to the very center of my soul. Thank you.

Blue Cheese said...

Lovely.

Renaissance Girl said...

Yup. You got it. Love to you all there.


Also, my capcha word below is SIGNIFICANCE.

Rachel Hunt said...

I love that Terryl and Fiona Givens, and love everything you wrote here about questions and silence.

I am trying to learn many of the same things, and likely because of it, my favorite line from a new book I read, called Letters to a Young Mormon, is this: The heavens are not closed; they are quiet.